Coach awarded ‘Soccer Person of the Year’

Ravenscraft credits team for stepping up play when it mattered most



Ravenscraft practices with team amid modified practices

Boys Soccer coach, Matthew Ravenscraft, was given the IHSSCA (Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association) Soccer Person of the Year award. After being one of just 14 nominees, Ravenscraft received the most votes by the state.

While it is an individual award, Ravenscraft emphasizes that, to him, it serves as acknowledgment for the entire team.

“My name may be on it, but I view this as affirmation of what we’ve been trying to do in the boys soccer program.”

One of Ravenscraft’s goals this fall was to foster the program’s core values into the players. Whether it be kindness, respect, or humility, he dedicated each practice to building up the team.

I want them to become stronger leaders, gain more resiliency, and become just better people overall. We ask a lot of the players in our program, but our hope is that they get a lot out of it in return.

— Ravenscraft

“I want them to become stronger leaders, gain more resiliency, and become just better people overall. We ask a lot of the players in our program, but our hope is that they get a lot out of it in return.”

Throughout the 2022 season, the team focused largely on the core value, resiliency.

After winning conference six years in a row, New Trier was prepared to continue its streak. The team won its first three games but proceeded to tie the next two. Ultimately placing second to Evanston

There was a huge sense of disappointment and defeat amongst the players. After this loss, Ravenscraft worked to get the team back on track.

“It forced us to really dig into our core values and the value that we felt like was lacking was competitiveness: the ability to compete and finish games off.”

The method he decided to use was a week-long competition among the team. With a brief break from games, Ravenscraft explained that it gave them the opportunity to train and “just get back to the basics.”

The practices that week were spent tracking points. In everything from a sprint, drill, or game, Ravenscraft recorded the names of the winners. The catch was that those with the most points at the end of the week won a spot as a starter in their first game back, hence being deemed ‘most competitive’.

“We’d keep a tally of how many points we got in a day and then write it on the whiteboard. So then everyone could see who’s winning and who’s losing,” senior midfielder Evan Kanellos said.

Ravenscraft admitted that his point-tracking competition was risky. It could have created toxicity among the boys, but it ended up being exactly what they needed to improve.

“We basically won every game from that point forward until we ultimately lost in super sectionals. We needed that, we needed to sort of face some adversity to rebuild our drive.”

Their progress continued throughout the season, leading to one of Ravenscraft’s favorite moments: winning sectionals, his first time as head coach. After the team’s previous difficulty during conference, this victory meant even more.

He specified that when they won, the New Trier Boys Soccer community truly came together to celebrate. He heard from alumni, coaches, parents, and more. For Ravenscraft, the most exciting part of this celebration was the reaction of the players.

“Seeing the team with that trophy, just the joy in that moment of the players. It was really special. I also had a moment with [a player]. He just turned around and lit up and went ‘Coach! This is huge!’ And then again he did it a minute later. He was just buzzing. We were all buzzing.”

Not only did Ravenscraft support the boys on the field, but he stayed involved in their outside lives.

Kanellos explained that his grandfather had passed away during the season. The day Kanellos’ grandfather died, Ravenscraft reached out, offering support and encouragement over the phone. Later in the week, the team had a game which happened to fall on the same day as his funeral.

Kanellos said, “[Ravenscraft] came and missed warm ups to go to the funeral. It was so nice he came. That meant a lot to me.”

It was gestures like these that built up the relationship between Ravenscraft and his players. The Soccer Person of the Year award was given to Ravenscraft for many reasons, but the players can agree that his character played a big part in it.

Senior midfielder, Owen Shean, expresses the appreciation that the other players share.

“Oh he’s just awesome,” said Shean. “He made an environment that really prioritized community within the team. I’ll definitely take that value away with me.”